COLOMBO: Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) will be introducing new regulations and providing greater support to small scale accommodation providers who have been the fastest growing business in the country’s hospitality industry.
Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) Chairman Paddy Withana said, “We are looking at smaller businesses so these regulations are being brought up so we will be having training programs on how to conduct and manage their properties”.
Speaking at a media briefing, he said that the government will be conducting research and managing supply chains in order to ensure that communities that are close to tourism hotspots receive benefits from the industry. He added that to knowledge transfers, the central government, in collaboration with local governments will be providing financial support for small scale tourism businesses to improve their operations.
In 2015, nearly 51 percent of the tourists coming to Sri Lanka had stayed in informal and supplementary establishments which had led to a supply glut in graded hotel accommodation. Influenced by corporate lobbying, the government last year announced its intentions to tax and regulates the online tools the small scale operators, almost exclusively, use to create business. Small accommodation units were also brought under a 0.5 percent Tourism Development Levy.
Most operators in the informal and supplementary sector had in the past not usually fallen into such national tax brackets, as confirmed by SLTDA officials. However, the state, which is hard pressed to make its ends meet, may be looking at further increasing taxation on the small scale tourism businesses, since Tourism Development, Land and Christian Affairs Minister John Amaratunga complained that these businesses do not pay taxes.
Meanwhile, the large scale hoteliers were treated to a Rs. 500 million fund which it could use to subsidize the interest components of credit drawn for refurbishment.